Hangman's Elm


Roots in History? Definitely. Hangings? Maybe.

hangman's elm greenwich village

About Hangman's Elm

 & why it made the Carpe City list

Hangman’s Elm is one of the oldest trees in New York. The Parks Department estimates it’s 340 years old and its reputation as The Hanging Tree goes back to the 19th Century 

  • We can’t say for sure if hanging occurred, but wood from English Elms are strong enough to “hang a school-bus from its branches” and rumors as old as the American Revolution say this tree was used to hang traitors. 
  • After the Revolution, the area turned into a site for public executions, and the legend of the Hangman’s Elm continued to grow. 
  • There are no official records of hangings from Hangman’s Elm, but in 1820, a woman named Rose Butler was hanged for arson nearby. 
  • The legend of the tree is as deeply rooted in Greenwich Village as the tree itself.

Carpe City Trivia

Hangman's Elm isn't the only old tree in New York!

Several ancient arbs are hanging around the five boroughs:

  • “The Dinosaur” at 163rd St. and St. Nicholas Ave. in Harlem is said to have shaded George Washington during the Battle of Harlem Heights 
  • The “Queens Giant” in Alley Pond Park dates to before Henry Hudson’s arrival. 
  • The “Colossus” at Clove Lakes Park on Staten Island is over 300 years old. 

By: Lucie Levine

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